Joyner to offer two-year classrooms

TUPELO – Three classes of next year’s first-grade students at Joyner Elementary will stay grouped together for two school years.
The new pilot program, proposed by Joyner Principal Jason Harris, will keep the students with the same classmates and teacher for first and second grades.
That way, the idea goes, teachers won’t need to spend time at the beginning of the new school term getting familiar with student abilities and learning styles.
“You will actually be gaining about a month of time on task at school,” said Carmon Dye, one of the three Joyner teachers who will be involved with the program.
Students also will have less anxiety about having new classmates and teachers, Harris said.
The three “looping” classrooms will be taught by Dye, Kim Brashier and Emily Books. Brashier will keep the same students she taught this year in kindergarten.
Students have not yet been chosen for the other two classes. For all three, parents had to agree to have their children placed in the special classrooms.
Joyner had about 140-150 kindergarten students this past year, Harris said. It had 10 kindergarten classes and 10 first-grade classes, although the number of classes and their size for 2010-11 have not yet been determined.
Harris said he would consider student needs and learning styles to determine whom to place in the class. He said the classes would be balanced by such factors as gender, race, behavior and ability level.
Special care will be needed to make sure the students will mesh well since they will remain together for two years. If there is a conflict with the class, students would have the ability to opt out of the two-year program, Harris said.
One concern will be that children will not meet as many peers since they will be with the same students for two years.
“That is a big downfall, but I think the benefits outweigh that one drawback,” Harris said. “Peer interaction is not lacking in American society.”
Brashier said teachers in the program should be deliberate about giving their students other opportunities to interact with peers.
“The main benefit I see is I will be able to begin the year knowing where my students are academically and behavior-wise,” she said. “Instead of having to start building a community, we will already have one.”

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal